In order to ensure every student has access to a school place, my Department establishes and supports new schools where a demographic need for a new school has been identified.
Where a new school is required to meet a demographic need, my Department runs a patronage process, open to all patron bodies and prospective patrons. Parental preferences for each patron, along with their preference for the language of instruction (Irish or English) of the new school, from parents of children who reside in the school planning areas concerned, together with the extent of diversity currently available in these areas, are key to decisions in relation to the outcome of this process. It is through this process that a new primary school can be an Irish-medium Gaelscoil or an English-medium school.
In order to determine where new schools are required to meet a demographic need, my Department uses a Geographical Information System (GIS) to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. The GIS uses data from a range of sources and with this information my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises at primary and post-primary level to determine where additional school accommodation is needed. As part of the demographic exercises, my Department engages with each of the local authorities to obtain the up-to-date data on significant new residential development in each area.
Following completion of nationwide demographic exercises, the Government recently announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022) to meet demographic needs.
While a new school wasn’t announced for the Ballyfermot, D10 and Dolphin's Barn, D12 school planning areas, the demographic data is being kept under ongoing review by my Department to take account of updated data.
The Schools Reconfiguration for Diversity Process also provides an opportunity to increase the number of Gaelscoileanna nationwide. The process, which involves the live transfer of existing schools, is designed to provide additional multi-/non-denominational schools in Irish or English and an opportunity is available to English-medium schools seeking to make a transition to Irish-medium provision in that context, in line with the expressed wishes of parents and the local school community.
The Schools Reconfiguration for Diversity Process provides that school communities can directly engage with their school patron regarding transfer of patronage to become a multi-denominational school, including a multi-denominational Irish-medium school. Any school which is seeking a transfer of patronage should contact their school patron directly.
As the foregoing outlines the position with regard to the establishment of schools, the group may consider liaising with existing school patrons or school communities in the area in the first instance to explore whether there is potential for a English-medium school in the area to transfer to an Irish-medium Gaelscoil.